VOLUME 2, ISSUE 3 | SEPTEMBER EQUINOX 2012 ICY PLANET ON THE BACK PLANETARY SOCIETY

KIDSImages: globe: NASA/JPL/color processing by Björn Jónsson; clouds: NASA/JPL; : NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk, Roane State CC

Why Is Orange?

You can make your own Here’s what you need: Mars rock–inspired rusty red • A steel-wool scouring pad chemical reaction. • One or two small glass soda bottles Bonus investigation apparatus: If you have the equipment, • Wine bottle vacuum pump (available at you can do an extra bit of department and kitchen gadget stores) experimenting—a bonus • Wine bottle vacuum rubber stopper investigation. • Scissors

The neck of the bottle needs to be wide enough to get the steel wool into the bottle, but narrow enough to close wine bottle vacuum pump it tight with the bottle stopper.

the wine bottle steel wool rubber stopper must fit your bottles!

This view of the Despina eclipsing and transiting Neptune is composed of four continued inside… frames captured nine minutes apart. Despina has been brightened in this photo or we would not be able to see it. The black dots are the moon’s shadow on Neptune. DID YOU KNOW THAT… continued from front… Rusty Mars Here’s what you do:  Rinse the steel wool so that the soap is completely washed away; leave it wet.  Cut the steel wool pad in half with scissors. 1  Put a piece of wet steel wool in a bottle.  Put the cap on and set the bottle in the Sun.

Make sure the steel For the bonus investigation: wool is good and wet!  Put a second piece of wet steel wool in a second glass bottle.  Using the vacuum plunger and vented stopper, pull as much air as you can out of that bottle.  Set that bottle out in the Sun.

WHAT YOU’LL SEE: The steel-wool pad in a bottle left open to the air will rust in a or so. Oxygen in the air combines with Experiment illustrations: Dave Merrill; panorama: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS; Rover illustration: NASA/JPL-Caltech iron in the steel to form iron oxide—rust. Experiments like this lead us to believe that iron in Mars’ rocks has combined with oxygen in its air. The whole planet turned a pale orange. That happened about three billion years ago. Now there is hardly any oxygen in the air. Wild! If you were able to rig up the second bottle, wait a 2 3 couple of days and pull the vented stopper out. You’ll hear the rush of air. The pad in the bottle that has had

Don’t know how the air pulled out will not have rusted nearly as much. to use a vacuum Leave this bottle out for another day, then compare it pump? Ask to the first bottle. When there was less oxygen, there someone to help! was less rust. It’s science here and science on Mars.

Have more fun learning about space at planetary.org/kids

BELOW Iron in Mars’ rocks combined with oxygen the highest part of visible to the rover. in the air (sometime back in history) to make the That part of Mt. Sharp is approximately 12 miles terrain orange! This color panorama shows a (20 kilometers) away from the rover. It took 140 photos 360-degree view of ’s landing site, including stitched together to make this panoramic image.

Thank you to the Clarence Foster Stanback Donor Advised Fund of Foundation For The Carolinas for its generous gift to create this publication. Flagstaff, AZ, USA claims to have the most astronomers DID YOU KNOW THAT… per capita of any city. Should we move there? LetterSearch

Curiosity traveled to Mars with the biggest and coolest collection of science experiments ever stuffed into a spacecraft, and they all have crazy names! After filling in their names below, take the letters in the red boxes and fill in the answer to the question below.

You might need the Internet to research the names of these instruments; good places to start would be http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/ and The Planetary Society’s blog posts.

CheMin: Chemistry &          instrument Experiment illustrations: Dave Merrill; panorama: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS; Rover illustration: NASA/JPL-Caltech SAM:     Analysis at Mars MARDI: Mars           RAD:         Assessment        REMS: Rover             Monitoring  Station APXS: Alpha        X-Ray Spectrometer instrument Where did Curiosity land?          

LEFT Curiosity isn’t just driving around...we’re doing science! This image shows the robotic arm of NASA's Curiosity with the first rock touched by an instrument on the arm. The rover will use its drills, scoops, and various instruments to analyze the rocks and soil that it encounters. Have more fun learning about space at planetary.org/kids Pass It On!

“Our special PLANETARY SOCIETY KIDS insert in each issue of our magazine is You can see hour lines and learn a lot more about MarsDials shareable! I want everyone— at jpl..gov/missions/mer, nyelabs.com, and planetary.org! young and old—to know and appreciate our place in space!” BILL NYE, CEO Get your parents signed up to receive The Planetary Report! DON’T FORGET! The whole family can learn about space science together.

Size comparison: Neptune’s diameter: 49,528 km (30,775 mi) Earth’s diameter: 12,756 km (7,926 mi) Images: globe: NASA/JPL/color processing by Björn Jónsson; clouds: NASA/JPL; transit: NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk, Roane State CC The great icy planet in the outer reaches of our

DID YOU KNOW THAT…  Neptune is 30 times as far from the Sun as Earth is?  Neptune has a much lower percentage of and helium and a higher percentage of  It orbits so slowly that it’s made just one trip , ammonia, and water than Jupiter? around the Sun since its discovery in 1846?  Scientists call Neptune and Uranus “ice giants”  Small amounts of methane in the uppermost rather than “gas giants” because they’re made atmosphere are what give Neptune its deep blue color? mostly of stuff that forms ices in the outer solar  Neptune and Uranus are almost exactly the system: methane, ammonia, and water? same size, composition, and color?  But Neptune’s “ices” actually exist in  Neptune is roughly 20 times as massive as Earth a high-pressure liquid ocean that’s a and roughly one twentieth as massive as Jupiter? scorching several thousand degrees?  Neptune’s atmosphere is made mostly of the  There’s an Earth-sized rocky core inside Neptune, same stuff as Jupiter’s, including hydrogen, at the bottom of that hot methane ocean? helium, methane, ammonia, and water?  Most of the planets that we’ve discovered around other stars are approximately the size of Neptune?

LEFT Neptune has blue skies LEFT Neptune’s and white clouds, like Earth— is actually a hole in Neptune’s but Neptune’s blue color comes clouds. The Dark Spot wasn’t from methane gas, and its a permanent feature like clouds from methane crystals. Jupiter’s Red Spot — it has disappeared since BELOW RIGHT Neptune was flew by. named after the Roman god of the ocean — the deep — because Neptune was in the “deep” reaches of space. Only later — when photographs of the planet got better — did we realize that the planet was the same color as the ocean!

This view of the moon Despina eclipsing and transiting Neptune is composed of four frames captured nine minutes apart. Despina has been brightened in this photo or we would not be able to see it. The black dots are the moon’s shadow on Neptune.

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